Friday, April 6, 2012

Worms Eat My Garbage

Last January when I had just moved to Knoxville, I ordered some worms in the mail. I had been wanting to start composting my kitchen waste, but since I’d only be in Knoxville temporarily I wanted a composting solution that I could move with me. Worm composting, otherwise known as vermicomposting, seemed a fabulous solution.
You can get as fancy as you’d like with worm composting and there are “worm towers” out there for $100 or more. I chose a more low-budget option – the Rubbermaid container.
I bought an opaque (worms dislike the light, as they are underground critters) 30 gallon Rubbermaid container for about $10 from Target. I drilled holes in the bottom to allow good drainage. I then filled the bin with “bedding,” hand-shredded newspaper with soy-based ink. I wet the bedding to create a moist environment and added some starter kitchen scraps – fruits and veggies, no meat, no oils.
When my worms came in the mail, I was quite apprehensive about whether they would even survive a week. My worries were confirmed when the poor stressed out worms began a massive breakout attempt, sticking to the underside of the lid and wrapped around the top edge of the bin. When I happened to move the bin, which I was keeping in my kitchen, I found underneath a baseball size ball of escaped, unhappy wrigglers.
The worms soon settled down and began to stay in the bedding, eating scraps for a couple months. I soon transferred them outside and promptly forgot them. A few months later, I nervously checked them by stirring up the contents of the bin with a wooden spoon, thinking surely they had died of neglect or from the cold – it had snowed several times, after all. To my surprise, the worms were thriving – fat and happy and many more than what I had started out with.

From that moment on, I was a worm composting convert. For over a year now, worms have eaten my garbage and turned it into rich, amazing fertilizer. All it takes is kitchen scraps and a few handfuls of shredded paper to cover and keep fruit flies away. I have yet to harvest the compost, but plan on doing it this week so the worms will have more space to work.

When I harvest compost, I will also check to see if the population is big enough to split. If there are enough, I would love to share some worms with an aspiring composter. Please comment if you’re interested; first come first serve.

Here is a great link to some vermicomposting basics. If it is easy enough for me
to do it, you can too!

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